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visiting luxembourg city, luxembourg's capital, unesco sites in luxembourg, history (10)

Visiting Luxembourg City

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This is the website of travel writer, Michael Turtle. After working in broadcast journalism for a decade in Australia, Michael left Sydney to travel the world indefinitely and write about his discoveries.

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

I had never really known if Luxembourg actually existed. For me, growing up on the other side of the world, European geography always consisted of the beer country, the wine country, the pasta country, the tapas country and ‘the other ones’. Luxembourg, if it was ever mentioned, was spoken about in the same way that Narnia was – a magical fictional land that is virtually impossible to find.

Even if you were to know what to look for, you would have to squint and zoom on a map to find Luxembourg. Eventually, it’s located, squeezed in between Germany, France and Belgium. It kind of looks like the gap that’s left when you haven’t fit together two jigsaw pieces quite right.

visiting luxembourg city, luxembourg's capital, unesco sites in luxembourg, history (1)

visiting luxembourg city, luxembourg's capital, unesco sites in luxembourg, history (2)

And, as it turns out, visiting the capital (also called Luxembourg) is a bit like going to that magical land I had always imagined. The city feels like it is built to be enjoyed more than lived in. The valleys with the rivers have charming little houses built along the banks; castles and churches line the clifftops; palaces and grand government buildings dominate the structure of the historic part of town; and even the busiest of streets have a pleasant mix of offices, shopping and recreation.

visiting luxembourg city, luxembourg's capital, unesco sites in luxembourg, history (3)

It has a population of less than 100,000 people but feels much more like a city than the town the size would suggest. It spreads out – never too crowded, never too hectic, always scenic from every angle.

visiting luxembourg city, luxembourg's capital, unesco sites in luxembourg, history (5)

In terms of history, Luxembourg survived the cycles of European conquests mainly because of its fortifications. It’s considered to be one of the best examples of military architecture on the continent. Having walked up and down its hills a few times now, I can assure you that its location is protection enough. The steep cliffs and ravines that snake through and around the city make it a very strategic position.

visiting luxembourg city, luxembourg's capital, unesco sites in luxembourg, history (7)

visiting luxembourg city, luxembourg's capital, unesco sites in luxembourg, history (6)

The valleys are also one of the main reasons why it’s such a pleasure to visit Luxembourg. Walking through the town – particularly the old quarters – is a pleasure on the eyes. The lack of the tourist hordes, who are presumably busy in the more famous neighbouring countries, makes it even more enjoyable.

visiting luxembourg city, luxembourg's capital, unesco sites in luxembourg, history (8)

visiting luxembourg city, luxembourg's capital, unesco sites in luxembourg, history (9)

There aren’t lots of ‘sights’ to visit in Luxembourg’s capital. There are quite a few interesting buildings but there’s a similarity to many of them and, remember, the city is quite small so it doesn’t take long to see them all.

As far as food and drink go, there are lots of good options around the squares in the medieval part of the city but things become a bit bare if you wander too far away. I was a bit surprised at first at how long it took me to find a decent area for dinner.

visiting luxembourg city, luxembourg's capital, unesco sites in luxembourg, history (4)

It seems that I am not the only one who has at some point wondered whether Luxembourg really exists. The foreign crowds just don’t exist here… but the locals don’t seem to mind. As a city, it’s extremely strong economically but appears content and self-assured, with no grand ambitions to be more than it is. I guess that’s easier to do when you’re already the capital of the world’s only ‘grand duchy’.

UNESCO world heritage site
This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For more info click here.
You can see all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites I’ve visited here.

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26 Comments
  • Vera | Dec 27, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Oooh, nice pictures and I particularly love your first two paragraphs!! Damn right it should all be easier, and hell yeah, why not just call them beer, wine, pasta and etc. country?! Seriously, I’m so bad with countries… I feel like I’m in Narnia everywhere, basically. Can you believe it was only after like three pictures into the post that I realized that Loz and me went to Luxembourg about two years ago for a week-end? Before that, I was like, Oh, Luxembourg… Gotta go there one day. Dear God. And it’s not because I don’t like a place or it didn’t leave an impression – put me back now, and I know my way, and can tell you what I did and where I ate and so on, but, I mean, all this knowledge and these experiences are in my head, and I don’t need to know names for that. I just need the names to communicate to others where I’ve been. It’s a severe case of places-dyslexia, really. But now I will not forget anymore that I’ve been to Luxembourg! Thanks, Turtle.
    Vera recently posted..The cycle ways of Costa BravaMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 1, 2013 at 2:31 pm

      I hope I’ve helped you cross another country off the list then! That’s what it’s really all about, right? In the seemingly neverending quest to discover the world, it’s nice to know you’ve done a little bit more than you realised.

  • Illumi | Dec 27, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    I also never know that Luxembourg is actually a country. I think Luxembourg is a city somewhere in Germany.

    From your Photos, it look likes really nice old city with a lots of trees and beautiful valley.
    It make me want to go there. So beautiful city.
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    • Michael Turtle | Jan 1, 2013 at 2:31 pm

      Thanks. It really is a beautiful city (and country). I hope you manage to get there one day!

  • BlogDaz | Dec 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Looks very historical and picturesque, quite surprising not many tourist visit. I must admit I thought i was in Belgium.
    BlogDaz recently posted..300 Up – Photo HighlightsMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 1, 2013 at 2:32 pm

      Perhaps part of the reason there aren’t hordes of tourists is because people don’t know exactly where it is. I get the feeling most of the visitors there were from nearby places who had just popped in for a short break.

  • Ele | Dec 27, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    I know they have very strict laws in some regard. People of other nationalities cannot become citizen through marriage. Students get paid their higher education at any university of the world. Being small and keeping it closed is sometimes and advantage, if you ask me.
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    • Michael Turtle | Jan 1, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      Yes, exactly. When you have a tiny population it’s much easier to make laws like that. Some people would argue that overcontrol is not a good thing, but I guess you’ve got the choice about whether you stay or not – there are plenty of other options nearby.

  • Alex M | Dec 28, 2012 at 12:21 am

    The first and the last photo are breathtaking! They are all great but if I was there I could sit at those look outs all day.
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    • Michael Turtle | Jan 1, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      It’s such a picturesque place. Those lookouts were gorgeous – but so were so many in the city. I definitely lingered and just soaked up the views.

  • D.J. - The World of Deej | Dec 28, 2012 at 12:56 am

    What a charming city…loved your posts from Luxembourg
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    • Michael Turtle | Jan 1, 2013 at 2:45 pm

      Thanks! It was a really pleasant visit. I’m glad I could share some of the experiences from my time there.

  • kami | Dec 28, 2012 at 5:21 am

    I hated my time in Luxembourg and after a very short stroll around the city I went to Germany. But I blame the awful weather for that as it was a gloomy and rainy November day. Now I can see I should give Luxembourg a second chance!
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    • Michael Turtle | Jan 1, 2013 at 2:46 pm

      I hope you do give it another chance! I can understand how the weather would put you off, though. It’s not a city that needs a lot of time but perhaps you could try to see a bit more of the country once you’re there. it’s very easy to get around by foot, bike, car or public transport.

  • Maria | Dec 28, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Wow, this is amazing – I never had this place of my must-see list, but now – it’s surely there! Thank you!

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 1, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      Great to hear, Maria. It’s pretty easy to make it part of a Western European trip because it’s so close to countries like France and Germany.

  • Cathy Sweeney | Dec 28, 2012 at 9:13 am

    A picture-perfect city. Love your photos. Interesting history about how it survived the European conquests. I hope that not too many others find out about Luxembourg City before I get a chance to visit.

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 1, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      It’s been there for long enough. There’s probably no great rush to visit :)

  • Cam @ Traveling Canucks | Dec 29, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Great photos Michael. The last time we visited Luxembourg was in the winter, during a white-out blizzard, so it’s interesting to see it during the summer. We intended to make it there this past summer but Strasbourg won the coin flip!
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    • Michael Turtle | Jan 1, 2013 at 2:55 pm

      It’s worth going back to in the summer, I think. Europe in winter has its charms but I don’t reckon you can really get a sense of a place unless you’ve bee there in the warmer months.

  • Bama | Dec 29, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    When my cousin who live in Germany mentioned about the strong fortification of this country, I was intrigued instantaneously. It’s one of the most important ‘micorstates’ in the world I think because it has a thriving bond market that reaches far beyond the territory of the country itself.
    Bama recently posted..2012, A Look BackMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 1, 2013 at 3:32 pm

      Yes, economically it’s quite an important country – particularly for its size. It seems the financial fortifications it has built are more protective than the physical ones these days.

  • Andrew | Dec 30, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    I had no clue it was so small. At only 100K that is half the size of Freiburg.

    I went many years ago, almost before the Internet. Ended up at a hotel out from the center what felt like a long ways. Had the same issue with finding dinner and decided on a Pizza Hut, which screwed up my order due to the mix of languages. French seems to be prominently spoken even though I really thought German was Co-Language there.

    It is a neat place and I know Ali would love to check it off, but as a city it didn’t grab me. Vianden was awesome though.

    I guess like most little countries, it was a combination of good defenses and lack of anything really really important to justify the conquering that kept it independent. Though when I was there it was pre-euro and they just used the Belgian coins. So not totally independent.
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    • Michael Turtle | Jan 1, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      The language thing confused me a lot. They do have their own language there but, of course, most people speak French and German. I was never quite sure how to start a conversation, though. Was it rude to start with German or to start with French? Seeing as I don’t speak either of them, it didn’t really matter. I would just smile and speak English (like a typical tourist). We were normally able to cobble together enough common words to understand each other.

  • Jennifer | Jan 3, 2013 at 11:51 am

    I haven’t made it to Luxembourg yet, but it’s a bucket list item to visit every European country. Someday soon!
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    • Michael Turtle | Jan 14, 2013 at 3:07 pm

      You won’t regret your trip to Luxembourg. And the best thing is you don’t even need to spend too long there. A few days and you’ll get a good sense of the country (just make sure you do more than the capital).

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